Co-chairs Beth and Gavin Brown opened the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s Legacy Dinner at Congregation B’nai Torah on March 2 with the celebration of Atlanta’s collective culture of giving, built on Jewish values.
Beth Brown, as part of a multi-generational charitable family, stated, “We are all reaping the benefits of what grandparents did for our Jewish ecosystems, like day schools, camps, synagogues, and health care.”
Co-chair Michael Kogon is also part of a multigenerational family blessed with shared giving visions.
Ron Kritt, national director of life and legacy, spoke about the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which responds to crises and supports the most vulnerable in caring for Israel and the Jewish people. Noted philanthropist and real estate magnate, Grinspoon, 93, who lives in Massachusetts, started the PJ Library program, and signed the Giving Pledge (a la Sarah Blakely, Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, etc.). of donating 50 percent of his wealth to philanthropy.
“I’m in awe of the commitment in this room which will carry the Jewish future forward with social services and emotional well-being…developing ‘menches.’”
Tamara Dollin, life and legacy community consultant, began with a blessing of gratitude.
Poised and confident Jori Mendel, Federation’s chief foundation officer, thanked Federation leaders, Matt Bronfman, Howard Katz, Mike Levin, Steve Cadranel, and Mark Silberman, et al. She spoke of upcoming Purim and the Federation’s response to the survival of the Jews through community.
The night’s keynote speaker, Bernie Marcus, appearing virtually from his home in Florida, began by saying, “It’s not raining here in Boca (as it was in Atlanta).”
Marcus shared decades of knowledge about the keys to happiness, vis a vis, events along his life. He said, “When you reach retirement age, don’t put yourself asleep.
Retiring 20-plus years ago, I keep myself going by being involved, evaluating what the bottom line is in saving lives through my foundation.”
Examples are: 40 years ago, starting the Marcus Autism Center, and now, developing diagnostic tools for early intervention for autism, as early as two months old.
He confided in the group, sharing, “Mothers come up and hug me. That’s my greatest reward.”
Still on the cutting edge of more medical discoveries, the Marcus Foundation is working on a blood test for predicting pancreatic and ovarian cancers in early stages, and injections for macular degeneration.
Continuing conversation with his biography’s co-author, Dr. Catherine Lewis, Marcus referred to his book, “Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons in Thinking Big, Giving Back and Doing It Yourself.”
His charitable pattern began with working with the City of Hope and clinical trials where he experienced saving lives, thinking far forward with, “things like bone marrow transplants, then unheard of. I was on the board, but still had no money.”
Marcus referred to his impoverished youth with strong parents, “Especially mother, who always had a ‘piskha,’ instead of us buying Charlotte Russe pastries.”
Marcus reflected on why he picked Georgia over California to anchor Home Depot, saying that people here were more caring.
“In California, if someone asks how you are, and you respond, ‘My head fell off,’ they smile and move on.”
Mendel, herself a Californian, laughed at the jab and chatted “with the wonder himself’ on the Zoom screen, dedicating a tree in his honor.
Mendel concluded, “Passover is coming, have a conversation with your family about sharing and celebrating philanthropy through the Atlanta Jewish Federation, helping here and abroad.”
Marcus concluded, “Don’t sit on the sidelines! Start something and stay with it. Use your smarts!”
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Beth and Gavin Brown
- jewish federation of greater atlanta
- Congregation B'nai Torah
- Michael Kogon
- Ron Kritt
- Harold Grinspoon Foundation
- PJ Library
- giving pledge
- Sarah Blakely
- Richard Branson
- Sheryl Sandberg
- Tamara Dollin
- Jori Mendel
- Matt Bronfman
- Howard Katz
- Mike Levin
- Steve Cadranel
- Mark Silberman
- Bernie Marcus
- Dr. Catherine Lewis
- City of Hope